If you have chronic pain anywhere in your body, you’ve probably searched for long-lasting, non-narcotic solutions to your suffering. One of the most popular results from searching for long-term chronic pain relief is Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS). This minimally invasive surgery has proven to be adequate in significantly reducing pain, though not completely. Still, most people would agree that if they could trade, they’d rather feel a fraction of their pain rather than the 100% they feel now. If you suffer from chronic pain, you may be very interested to learn more about SCS and to know if you are a candidate to receive it.
What is SCS?
SCS therapy masks pain signals before they reach the brain. A device about the size of a pacemaker is implanted in the epidural space behind the spinal cord, sending mild electric currents to the spinal cord. A small wire delivers the electric pulse from a generator to nerve fibers on the spinal cord – the stimulation of the nerves in the area where you normally feel pain. The electrical pulses interfere with your standard pain signals so they’re not as strong when they reach your brain, reducing the level of pain in the affected area anywhere from 50 to 70 percent.
Who Qualifies For SCS?
Because the procedure does not work for everyone, there is a careful and deliberate screening process for SCS. Most accepted candidates report at least a 50 percent reduction in pain, as well as significant improvement in daily functioning, but not everyone is as receptive. If the patient requesting the SCS fits the criteria, their doctor will arrange for the second step in the screening process, also known as the trial period. This is to see how well the temporary therapy eases the individual’s pain. If a patient no longer is interested during the trial, the removal process is simple and painless.
If I am a candidate, what can I expect?
When looking for an SCS specialist, a good question to ask would be their percentage of patients who go on to have a permanent implant after having a trial period of stimulation. A high percentage indicates the specialist is carefully selecting candidates. And remember, some SCS devices use a low-frequency current to replace the pain sensation with a mild tingling feeling called paresthesia. The device can also produce a small tingling sensation from the site where the generator meets the spinal cord. While it’s not painful, some patients find it unpleasant.
Find a doctor with experience in spinal cord stimulation. SCS is a rapidly changing therapy, and new devices are often being brought to the medical public. A specialist with experience more likely to have the expertise and be up-to-date on the latest techniques and devices.
Unfortunately, not everyone can receive an SCS. There are qualifications to meet and steps to take before someone can undergo this procedure. The team at Balcones Pain Consultants can help find the right pain relief stimulator for you. Balcones Pain Consultants offer to care and experienced pain management. Our pain specialists include board-certified surgeons who see every patient on their first visit. Call (512) 834-4141 for an appointment at one of our convenient locations today in Austin, Cedar Park, and Marble Falls.